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The Almighty Buck Businesses

Changing Jobs for Job Satisfaction? 895

Posted by Cliff
from the switching-career-tracks dept.
I-love-my-work, who is considering rejoining the IT world after a stint in business, asks: "A molecular biologist with a PhD at University of Birmingham, in the UK, quits his lab position to become a plumber, since a plumber apparently earns twice what he currently makes (~US$42K). How many of you would change careers if given a chance? What factors would influence the decision (money, hours, upper management, a chance to enjoy more of your life)?" What factors would make you seriously consider leaving your current career for another?
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Changing Jobs for Job Satisfaction?

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  • Paid? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Antarius (542615) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:23PM (#8456811)
    Paid? I'm supposed to get Paid?!

    Duuuude....
    • Re:Paid? (Score:3, Informative)

      by 2names (531755)
      Not if you work for Komatsu in Peoria, IL. They just announced another round of layoffs today that will take effect at the end of March.

      "...it's the old 'cut our way to profitability' trick!!!"

    • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Axe (11122) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456932)
      Sorry. As much as I like science, I like having all bills paid even more.

      Getting paid 1/4 for job satisfaction? Nah..

      • by ParticleGirl (197721) <SlashdotParticleGirl.gmail@com> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:43PM (#8457893) Journal
        I realized a few years ago that I like having all bills paid too, but that I care a lot more about travelling to new and beautiful places during the summer than I do about having cable TV during the winter. You choose your luxuries in life. My luxuries are less material and more quality-of-life things. I can pay off all my bills even living under the poverty line, and I'm much happier now than I was when I had more bills-- and a LOT more money.

        I was a programmer for a while, most notably during the bubble. I was paid really well, enjoyed the work itself most of the time, and got great perks. I also worked in an office with no windows 40 to 50 hours a week, and it could be pretty frustrating at times (in a damn, this idiot will NEVER understand the point I'm trying to make! kind of way) So I decided to go back to school.

        I'm working on a PhD in archaeology. The stipend I'm living off of is a quarter of what I was making at my old job (not considering things like inflation and the raises I would've gotten between then and now.) I can't afford cable or to go out for dinner all that much; I'm living below the poverty line. But I love my life! I travel every summer to exotic places, I love what I spend my time doing, I am intellectually challenged every minute of the day, set my own schedule again, and am excited about the fact that I have so much freedom to determine where I will be in the future. Which university or universties I'll end up teaching at, where I'll do my research, all of the places I'll be able to visit. All of the reading I'll do and all of the time I'll spend outdoors instead of in an office with no windows. It'd be great if at some point I make a lot of money again, and I'm sure I'll manage to do just fine (under the poverty line is for grad students; I don't plan to stay here forever.) But for me, it was no choice: job and LIFE satisfaction over any amount of money, any day.
    • Correct (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nycsubway (79012)
      Self publishing [gbookcards.com] for people with knowledge in a particular subject, science, programming, math.

      (shameless plug by me :)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:12PM (#8457494)
      Why anyone would want to be a Microbiologist?? I mean I have desire to be a plummer personally, but at least I would get tons of meaningless casual sex... That is unless porn has lied to me... :)
  • by WesG (589258) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:24PM (#8456823)
    ....and you'll never have to work a day in your life :-)
    • by Deitheres (98368) <brutalentropyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:28PM (#8456878)
      Or perhaps one could find a job that does not require work, and therefore come to love it ;-)
    • by Warped1 (68788) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:28PM (#8456887)
      Not always true, unfortunately. All too often the 'job' part ruins the 'fun' part.

      For example, I used to love programming. Then I got a job doing it for a living ... and I no longer can easily start working on programming related things once I get home from work. After 5+ years of doing it as a job now, it's very difficult for me to spend time writing code at home now ... it just feels too much like work. =(
      • by Beatbyte (163694) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:31PM (#8456941) Homepage
        which means you enjoyed it without the deadlines, forced work, etc.

        basically you liked it as a hobby, not as a job.

        a good thing to keep in mind.
      • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:32PM (#8456967) Journal
        "All too often the 'job' part ruins the 'fun' part."

        So you're telling me that Ron Jeremy responds to a woman coming onto him with, "Naa, you look pretty hot an' all, but it'd feel too much like work..."?

      • by gareth6889 (745319) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:33PM (#8456982)
        which is why i NEVER want to be a gynecologist :)
      • by kfg (145172)
        Are you coding what you love at work?

        If not, you have not yet found a job you love.

        KFG
      • by Glonoinha (587375) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:37PM (#8457042) Journal
        I spent a few years in college working for a television station, most of my job boiled down to watching our station on 5 different monitors as a quality control (high-def, black and white, regular color, a radial spectrograph, and a high-def black and white) - but after you trained yourself what to look for it bwas basically watching TV 8 hours a day in an otherwise featureless room with nobody else there, no outside stimuli. For two years, getting paid for it.

        I still don't watch regular television anymore - can't bear to watch what amounts to crap for free. I do watch some Discovery Channel and the History Channel, that's time well spent - but regular TV ... ouch.
      • by Tsiangkun (746511)
        I used to love science. I would read articles, study the techniques and figure out how to do experiments on my own. I once cloned a gene using jello, gummi worms, a rubbermaid box, some wire,some twine, a tylenol bottle,a pinch of lye, and a lantern battery.

        Obviously science and biochemistry was something I would do as a hobby . . . out of school now, and having been working for 6 years in the field. . . there is no desire left to do science in the kitchen, it just feels like work without the pay.

        Even
      • by moviepig.com (745183) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:52PM (#8457233) Homepage
        Programming's a skill, not unlike speaking or writing. While you're new enough to it, there's enjoyment in the mere exercise of your mastery. But that wears out, out course, and does so even faster if you're doing it eight hours a day.

        But when programming (or speaking or writing) matures into becoming a tool, its spectrum of possibilities for rewarding engagement widens dramatically.

        Choose your next job by its projects. (And soon.)

      • When you work for yourself its a labor of love.
        You dont do things that dont interest you.
      • It seems to a lot of people that professional gamers have the ultimate jobs, playing every day, getting PAID to frag others in head-to-head death-matches, but it seems that reality sets in pretty quick - 10-12 hour days of just practicing in order to stay on top and keep that sponsor check coming in.

        But to answer the root question - I wouldn't change. I love what I do too much, and I think I get paid decently for it as well. I am the type of geek who spends 8 hours on the computer at work, then comes home

      • by Watcher (15643) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:18PM (#8457563)

        I was in very much the same boat as you in my first job. Four pretty miserable years working on financial software at a nasty company. I was bored, drained of energy, frustrated, and I had completely lost all love of programming. I actually dreaded coding-when I did get a chance to code, instead of dealing with all kinds of political crap. I changed jobs a short while ago, and its made a world of difference. Here I'm working almost 100% of my time on code, the work is challenging as hell, the coworkers are sharp, and I don't have to deal with all kinds of political crap. On top of that, I'm actually coding in my spare time again-something I stopped doing over two years ago.

        What I'm saying is, there are jobs out there which are much better in this industry. Some suck, some are much better. The good jobs are always rare, in any industry, but they *are* out there. Don't lose hope.

    • by PYves (449297) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:39PM (#8457080)
      I've always preferred:

      find a job you like enough to do for the rest of your life, that pays well and doesn't have too long hours. Then do the stuff you love with your money and free time.

      Because let's face it, there's way more stuff that's fun to do in your free time than as a job.

      And if you love your job, there's a good chance you're not making enough money to do a whole lot of other stuff. (love + money + time is perfect, like + money + time is a great, easier to attain second place)
    • by El (94934) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:20PM (#8457585)
      Find a job you love...

      and you'll never work a day in your life...

      after they outsource that job to India!
  • by bangular (736791) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:26PM (#8456847)
    What would you do if you had a million dollars?
    Besides 2 chicks at the same time?
    Well yeah
    I'd do absolutly nothing...
    =)
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:26PM (#8456850) Homepage
    I work in the software industry, and the recent death of a co-worker has me thinking about what I do with my time. Could I support my family with an at-home job? Could I work somewhere that lets me spend more time with my kids?

    Sure, I make pretty good scratch, but what fun is the money if you never get a chance to spend it?

    These questions and more are definately floating around our office.
    • by indulgenc (694929) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:28PM (#8456873)
      "what fun is the money if you never get a chance to spend it?"

      Ask you wife.
    • what fun is the money if you never get a chance to spend it?

      Outsource the spending part. That gives you more time to earn money. And purely concidental, I happen to be an excellent spender, so I'll be your outsourcing company for very reasonable fee.
      • > > what fun is the money if you never get a chance to spend it?
        >
        > Outsource the spending part. That gives you more time to earn money. And purely concidental, I happen to be an excellent spender, so I'll be your outsourcing company for very reasonable fee.

        Tinfoil hats rejoice! Proof positive that the Government does read Slashdot!

    • Could I support my family with an at-home job? Could I work somewhere that lets me spend more time with my kids?

      Yes, you do get more time to spend with your kids. I've been working at home for over 3 years now and it's wonderful. My kids are young still, but I am looking forward to the day they will be able to work with me and I can teach them.

      My Dad owned a business with his brothers (he had a office of course, not at home) that my great grandfather started. I really feel a loss that I never was taught

    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:02PM (#8457382) Journal

      Sure, I make pretty good scratch, but what fun is the money if you never get a chance to spend it?

      I've heard this from a lot of people. And certainly there are scores of people who spend too much time at work and not enough with their families. But I always remember what happened to some guy who used to work here: he came down with Alzheimer's in his 40s. I work at a scientific/engineering kind of place and, needless to say, your mind is the most important tool you have. This poor guy got struck down with a terrible disease way before his time. He had to retire. He just couldn't do the work anymore. Here's a case where doing the right thing for your family would have been to save up a big chunk of dough to support them if you died or could no longer work. Of course, he didn't know he was going to get Alzheimer's -- and certainly not at such an early age -- so he can't be blamed if he didn't save up a shitload of money "just in case."

      The point I'm trying to make is that these issues are tough. No one has the "right" answer. Maybe your family is better off if you take a pay cut and have more time for them. And maybe your family is better off if you work your ass off when you're young and save up a lot of money to support them in case something happens to you. No way to know for sure. It's questions and issues like this that make life so exciting and terrifying at the same time.

      GMD

  • Money and Hours! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by saden1 (581102) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:26PM (#8456857)
    It is simple really, it is a pay me world and I want to get paid. I think I'll be happy doing whatever so long as it pays well and I can live comfortably. Of course the hour worked is also a quality look for in a job. I don't exactly want to spend my weekends working.
    • by smitty45 (657682) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456925)
      so if you have weekends off and you get paid "well", you have no problem being a porn spammer ?

      How about a garbage collector ?
      What about a factory worker ?
    • Are you sure? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GuyMannDude (574364)

      I think I'll be happy doing whatever so long as it pays well and I can live comfortably.

      I'm not sure you've thought about this long enough. You spend almost a third of your life at your job. You'd really be happy doing ANYTHING for that third? Since another third of your life is sleeping, you're saying that you'll willing do anything for the work-third so you can enjoy yourself during your non-work-non-sleep-third. I'm not sure that's a reasonable trade. Now factor in the fact that what you do for a

  • Yup (Score:5, Funny)

    by ENOENT (25325) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:27PM (#8456861) Homepage Journal
    If I ever get an offer for the position of "Beatle", I'm outta here.
  • I kill bugs (Score:5, Funny)

    by hoggoth (414195) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:27PM (#8456862) Journal
    All day long, every day, I find bugs in software and kill those bugs.
    I just found out that I would make more money if I spend all day long, every day, finding bugs under furniture and kill those bugs.

  • Where do I sign? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by da3dAlus (20553) <dustin.grau@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:28PM (#8456870) Homepage Journal
    I spent 5 years getting a BC in CS to do a job that a flea-infested, poo-flinging resus monkey could do in its sleep. And I've been doing the same thing for 18 months this week. Quite frankly I'm ready to start considering a change, since I pretty much have a snowball's chance in hell of finding something else in the IT field. I've already informed some of my superiors that if they don't place me in something that more effectively uses my abilities, I'm probably leaving. They've been dangling a carrot in front of me for months about an actual programming position...yeah right.
    • by ramar (575960) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:46PM (#8457155)
      There's a fine line between persistance and pestering. Giving your superiors an ultimatum isn't going to be as affective and convincing them why its in their best interest to give you a development position.
    • by Stridar (325860)
      A word of advice for all you soon to be graduates.

      If you enjoy programming, never take any job in the IT field outside of programming. When looking for an internship or a first job, never accept any system administration, product support, or, especially, testing position. Once you are in these positions and they appear on your resume, you are pigeonholed. When you send your resume to any company, they will see your experience and only consider that for you placement. For any company with an HR departme
      • Re:Where do I sign? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:28PM (#8457709)
        Once you are in these positions and they appear on your resume, you are pigeonholed.

        It's not only that, but the TYPE of programming you do -- once you do a certain kind, you're pigeonholed in that, too.

        For 7 years I was a C/Unix programmer. I was asked (in the "do it or you're fired way"), for the good of the company, to join a new project that was Unix backend and Visual Basic front end, and everyone got training on both. Fine, I thought it would broaden my skill set... ha! Since I picked up on the VB fast, they made me the main VB person on the project. Then I didn't work with Unix at all. At the end of the project, I was "the VB guy", and only got offered VB slots in the company. Looked outside, and no Unix or C shop would even consider someone who had been coding VB for a year. Those seven years before coding C/Unix... gee, must not have happened.

        I've been through four companies since then, and I'm STILL coding VB. I come to /. to laugh bitterly at all you innocent college students who still cling to hope. The IT world is a boot, folks, and it impacts on your nether regions again and again and again...

        Go be a plumber. That's a useful job in society. Programmers should just be shot -- and when we're lining the streets three deep looking for jobs, that's precisely what they'll do to us, just to keep from blocking traffic.
  • A plumber? (Score:3, Funny)

    by NetNinja (469346) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:28PM (#8456883)
    To go from an air conditioned lab to unclogging shitters is not my idea of job satisfaction.

  • by irving47 (73147) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:29PM (#8456892) Homepage
    I'm thinking of moving out of the IT industry...
    What I'm looking for:
    Reasonable job satisfaction- No more adjusting the settings on something that's going to get screwed up constantly or need non-stop maintenance. Something physical. And preferably something that people don't consider vital to their life. I can't even guess how many day-traders have threatened to hold me responsible for their ISP being down...

    Human interaction-And by human, I don't mean people that can't use their computers.
    Being in a job where the only people you see for months on end are 7 other guys kind of gets old. Especially if you don't get out a lot.
    Money will/would be nice, but my expenses are low, so I'm fortunate that it won't be a primary concern.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:29PM (#8456902)
    I was a highly-paid dot-com bubble programmer, and then I was asked to become a vacationer overnight.

    Seriously though, it was a very pleasant experience : 2 years of absolute slacking, doing only what I wanted on the money I had made during the bubble, recovering from 5 years of uninterrupted software development death marches that had left me kind of sick, and reflecting on all the mistakes I will never make in the future, either as an employee or as an entrepreneur.
  • by targo (409974) <targo_t&hotmail,com> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456912) Homepage
    One professor of mathematics noticed that his kitchen sink at his home broke down. He called a plumber. The plumber came on the next day, sealed a few screws and everything was working as before. The professor was delighted. However, when the plumber gave him the bill a minute later, he was shocked. "This is one third of my monthly salary!" he yelled. Well, he paid and then the plumber said to him: "I understand your position as a professor. Why don't you come to our company and apply for a plumber position? You will earn three times as much as a professor. But remember, when you apply tell them that you completed only the seventh grade. They don't like educated people."

    So it happened. The professor got a plumber job and his life significantly improved. He just had to seal a screw or two occasionally, and his salary went up significantly. One day, the board of the plumbing company decided that every plumber has to go to evening classes to complete the eighth grade. So, our professor had to go there too. It just happened that the first class was math. The evening teacher, to check student's knowledge, asked for a formula for the area of the circle. The person who was ask was the professor. He jumped to the board, and then he realized that he forgot the formula.
    He started to reason it and soon filled the board with integrals, differentials and other advanced formulas to conclude the result that he had forgotten. As a result he got "negative pi times r squared." He didn't like the negative, so he started all over again. He got the negative sign again. No matter how many times he tried, he always got a negative. He was frustrated. He looked a bit scared at the class and saw all the plumbers whisper: "Switch the limits of the integral!!"
    • Cops... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by irving47 (73147) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:51PM (#8457224) Homepage
      NOT to belittle LEO's, but I've heard that some departments won't hire people whom they feel are too intelligent. They are afraid they will get bored too easily.
      There was a case where a guy scored extremely high on one of those little tests, and was therefore not hired. Of course, once his lawyer was done, he probably didn't need to....

  • by balloonpup (462282) <<moc.pupnoollab> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456916) Homepage
    I worked in IT for a good number of years, as everything from tech support to running a small computer shop. Eventually, I decided to try something else...I was getting sick of IT, sick of people. I went full tilt the other direction -- I became a trucker. The pay is the same or better (depending upon what I'm doing), and the satisfaction of getting things done, truly, is much better than the endless chain of people in tech support. Fixing pc's was never the same, nor was managing databases. I've also found that it's great seeing the country as a whole -- there's a lot of stuff out there you just don't get to enjoy when you're inside a building 8-12 hours a day.
    • Me too! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NineNine (235196) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:03PM (#8457392)
      I did the same thing. I run a small brick & mortar business. Much more interesting than writing yet another 3-tier web app in a drab, lifeless cubicle. The upside is that not only is it more interesting, but my long term financial picture is excellent. Instead of taking home an admittedly fat paycheck, my net worth is skyrocketing because my business is. It would take a salary of about $1M to get me back in IT. Good riddens!!
  • by freeze128 (544774) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456926)
    On some really bad days, I sometimes consider leaving the IT industry and becoming a botanist.
    What's the worst that could happen? Your bulbs don't germinate on time? Maybe some of your plants get some bugs... It's not like 500 employees breathing down your neck because the server is down.

    But I would really miss working with the people. Go figure. The source of most of my IT pain is really the only reason for working in the industry.
  • Illusionary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bilestoad (60385) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456927)
    Don't forget that the grass is always greener.

    So chemists want to be he-man plumbers, swinging a pick and gaining satisfaction from building something tangible? Plumbers wish they could sit on their asses out of the weather and keep their fingers soft and clean on a keyboard all day. Programmers wish they could be making explosions in a chemistry lab, wearing a cool white coat and getting all the chicks!!
  • by rotomonkey (198436) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456929)
    It's getting too stressful worrying about layoff-this, RSI-that. I work in an industry (3D animation) that in ten years will probably be smaller than it is now. When I change careers it will probably be because I'm too tired of being one of the rats clinging to Titanic's rigging. This used to be a job that I loved (and you're right, I never worked a day), but that has changed and it's a job now.

    I'll switch careers when I find something that will make me as happy as doing 3d work did five years ago.
  • Stress. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by saintlupus (227599) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:30PM (#8456934) Homepage
    What factors would make you seriously consider leaving your current career for another?

    If I didn't like it, of course.

    Right now, I work for a private college in the IT department. It's pleasant work, for the most part. Taking a job like this definitely caps your potential income, but frankly, there's a lot more important factors than money.

    If I'm spending a third of my weekday hours somewhere, or more, why the hell would I do it somewhere I hate? That's like just _asking_ to be miserable the rest of the time.

    --saint
  • Already doing it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Loctavius (607834) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:31PM (#8456954)
    I changed out of IT after the crash in 2000. I started teaching college as a stopgap measure and found it immensely rewarding despite the drastic drop in pay. I got certified to teach math in Florida, and I'm now here looking to teach kids in the public school system. Job satisfaction was the only motivating factor.
  • I get paid to (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Unabageler (669502) <`moc.oi3' `ta' `hsoj'> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:31PM (#8456958) Homepage
    sit at home, hack perl code, and watch tv/listen to music. I work in my underwear most days...in fact I'm posting in my underwear. I have sex while i'm at work when my gf comes over. I can drink if i want, smoke whenever i want, get a tan on my deck since i have a laptop, whatever i want. sometimes i walk downtown and go to a coffee shop for a change of scenery.

    plus i get paid well :) what more can I ask for? maybe i could buy a house close to where i am now, which is 3 blocks from the beach.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      sit at home, hack perl code, and watch tv/listen to music. I work in my underwear most days...in fact I'm posting in my underwear. I have sex while i'm at work when my gf comes over. I can drink if i want, smoke whenever i want, get a tan on my deck since i have a laptop, whatever i want. sometimes i walk downtown and go to a coffee shop for a change of scenery.

      plus i get paid well :) what more can I ask for? maybe i could buy a house close to where i am now, which is 3 blocks from the beach.

      Whoa, you
  • Lets see... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:32PM (#8456965) Homepage Journal
    A molecular biologist with a PhD at University of Birmingham, in the UK, quits his lab position to become a plumber, since a plumber apparently earns twice what he currently makes (~US$42K).

    Hopefully if you are in science, you are doing what you do for reasons other than financial gain. Ideally, one should be doing what they are doing in science to make a difference . Really, because there are a ton of things people can do that are much easier that writing papers, doing good science and applying for grants that make much more money than do your typical scientist. Take for instance the auto mechanic who works on my neighbors BMW. That dude (mechanic) clears six figures easy. Another set of examples: Before I went to graduate school, one of my jobs was a mechanic for old Ferrari's and Lamborghini's. That was not too bad in terms of income and certainly covered the cost of tuition. The carpenter we paid to make our couch makes some pretty good money. The dudes that replaced our sewer line and driveway cleaned up to the tune of $4000 or so. So, if you are just in it for the money, go get an MBA or a plumbing license or something.

  • Hand Made Guitars (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JustAnotherReader (470464) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:32PM (#8456966)
    I am currently building mountain dulcimers for sale and I'm learning to build acoustic guitars and mandolins. After playing music all my life and guitar for about 30 years I just feel like this is the right move. And now that we've been told that our company is going to be outsourcing our jobs it turns out to be good that I have a backup plan.

    The way I feel about it is this: I can sit in a cubicle doing what is essentially rearranging random ones and zeros into non-random order to create something of value (although most of my time is actually spent doing documentation, reports, supervision, meetings etc).
    OR I can take a bunch of raw pieces of wood and create something that is not only beautiful, but allows a musician to create even more beauty and music.

    Which one sounds more satisfying to you?

    The more I write code the more I want to build guitars for a living.

    [BTW, I'd love to add a shameless plug for my website right about here but I'd probably just slashdot myself and end up taking my whole site down]

  • by Michael Woodhams (112247) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:33PM (#8456981) Journal
    PhD in Astronomy, 1998. My thesis dragged out endlessly so that once I'd finished it, I couldn't stand the thought of doing the work to create some papers out of it. Also, I wanted to come back home (New Zealand) and astronomy jobs are hard to get here.
    1998-2003: Commercial programmer. OK at first, but eventually I was just doing the same old stuff again and again. I was getting very bored and I think because of that, unproductive.
    So now I'm an applied mathematician in bioinformatics (having studied no biology since early high school). I was earning 40% more at the previous job, but it is worth it to be doing something interesting again.
    Money is nice (a friend once called it "the sincerest form of appreciation") but having new, challenging and interesting things to do is more important.
  • by xanthines-R-yummy (635710) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:34PM (#8456998) Homepage Journal
    This isn't meant to be a troll or anything, but Post-doctoral fellows (aka post-docs) are training-type positions like medical residents. They earn slave wages under the guise of training. Of course, after their 3,4,5,6 year training stint, their earnings go up exponential to make up for lost time.

    A junior technician (bachelor's degree) can make around $50K USD here in the US. A PhD can command more as a "mere lab tech." That's IF s/he wants to continue to do science. They can get jobs reasonably easily as *shudder!* consultants. In fact, I went to seminar on how to tweak your resume (a science PhD resume, anyway) to get a job in consulting.

    I seriously doubt he'll be making over $100K USD after 5 years as a plumber. With his PhD he can, if he plays his cards right.

  • by Drunken_Jackass (325938) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:35PM (#8457007) Homepage
    "It's so beautiful, I feel so ... I feel my juices are just you know ... it makes me so ... I want to write, I want to paint, I want to sculpt something massive. I've got a creative urge. I wonder if there's a men's room around here."

    I'd give up my day job in a heartbeat if there was any money in the massive sculpture market.
  • by endeitzslash (570374) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:35PM (#8457010)
    Here. [salary.com]
  • Passion ... ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chromodromic (668389) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:36PM (#8457025)
    This article is a little scattered. One person is quitting his job as a *molecular biologist with a Ph.D." to work as a plumber, while another person is switching to training greyhounds and yet another is just moving to Canada. The reasons for all of these changes may be way unrelated to each other.

    But so what? Just because you *can* do something doesn't mean that you should. I've made in excess of $100,000/year as a software consultant for four years. Now I'm finishing my English degree and studying poetry. People do this sort of thing all the time and it usually comes when they're a little older and have a better idea of what matters to them in life and what gives them the energy to get up in the morning and face the day. The molecular biologist has some big bills, perhaps. Or maybe he's just a smart guy that put in a ton of work -- Ph.D.'s, after all, aren't earned in a few weekends of spare time study, at least not from a reputable school -- and then found that the reality of research is different from the intellectual stimulation of textbooks.

    Do I like software? Yes, I do. I compete on TopCoder, read books about functional programming, and throw mud at SCO. But writing and literature is, simply speaking, closer to my heart. For another person it's training an ancient breed of dogs. And for yet another person it's going to Canada to commune with, well, Canadians I guess.

    The fact is that, given basic education, intelligence and wherewithal, we live in a world where you don't *have* to settle for doin' what yer daddy done, or towing the line, or staying "safe" if you don't want to.

    This molecular plumber guy is just searching for a reward, I guess. After a few years of the realities of a plumber, it's possible yet he may look fondly back at his days as a molecular biologist ...
  • $42k a year (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g0bshiTe (596213) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:37PM (#8457034)
    First off a plumber makes more than someone with a phd?

    Anyway, something similar to this happened to me, minus the 42k and phd. I recently swapped careers after over 8 years as an automotive tech. I decided I was tired of going home greasy, busting my knuckles, and working out in the cold. Now I'm in school part time, and working with the same company only in the IT department. The dirtiest I get at work now is from a rabid dust bunny inside of a case or two. Needless to say I am happy of the change. Once school is completed I'll make at least twice what I did working on cars. I would have been reluctant to change had I not been able to stay with the same company. I know of many people who have their degrees in Computer Science, and cannot get a job either from the market bieng saturated or a lack of hands on experience. I am lucky enough to have the best of both worlds, job security, working at my degree, and getting hands on experience.

    As for the plumber with a phd, my father always said "It doesn't matter if you make minimum wage washing dishes, as long as your happy with what you do."
    • Re:$42k a year (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NineNine (235196) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @07:11PM (#8457484)
      job security

      Why do you think that you have job security? People who think that they have job security are usually the first ones laid off. Write this down, and repeat it every morning when you brush your teeth: NOBODY HAS JOB SECURITY. As soon as you think that, you get slack, and forget it, your job is in India. No offense, dude, but you can't offshore auto mechanic jobs, and people will ALWAYS needs their cars fixed. IT jobs are being outsourced at an insane rate, and jobs are disappearing completely faster than you can say "IT". You're gonna be a training treadmill that's only going faster and faster. You think new cars every year is bad? Hell, at least the way an engine works stays pretty much the same year after year. In IT, get ready to learn a whole new skill set, I'd say, every 6 months. You really should think about this realistically. IT is about the least secure field for *anyone* these days, including Indians (their new jobs are moving to China and Vietnam, now)
  • by t1nman33 (248342) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:37PM (#8457035) Homepage
    I met a gentleman as I was going through orientation at my current job who had gone off to work at odd jobs for a few years after having a sort of "Office Space" epiphany. He was tired of the bureaucracy, the mind games, the control issues, and just wanted to go do good, honest work.

    He has since come back to working in the business world, which is why he now works for my company. Why? Well, he discovered that as an "odd job" laborer:

    You have to work HARD.

    You make no money.

    You have no benefits.

    You still have to deal with pompous, overbearing individuals who think they know, when in fact, they do not.

    You do not get vacations.

    Now given, YMMV, but I have found that the key to job happiness is having a good balance of expectations versus fulfillment. 3 years ago, when my expecations of employment were "I want a pool table, I want to go drinking every night with my coworkers, I want to work 80-hour weeks and be an IPO millionaire," I would have been miserable at my current job. The place is kinda corporate, after all. We have cubes, and use buzzwords, and there are "are you giving good customer service?" banners hanging up.

    But now, what I want in a job includes things like vacation time, a chance to play with some fun technologies, good money, and a job that I can come in, do, and get outta here as quickly as possible. So now my job is a lot more fulfilling, partially because I found a different job, and partially because I modified my expectations.

    If you are really miserable at your job, by all means, go elsewhere. I certainly did. But be prepared to take a good look at yourself and consider that part of the problem may lie with you.

  • Just get paid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ratbert42 (452340) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:39PM (#8457069)
    Most of my life I've gotten the advice to figure out what you love and find some fool to pay you for doing it. Now I'm not so sure. Go find a secure profession that will pay you well enough to live your life (hint: a life isn't what you do at work). Make sure there are enough opportunities that you can switch employers whenever you get sick of one. Then go do what you love. You're selling some of your life to your employer to finance the rest of your life.
  • by Mistah Blue (519779) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:43PM (#8457125)

    I read most of the posts here and to summarize, we geeks are fed up to the top of our heads with the current state of affairs. Namely, corporations that don't give a damn about us. Unfortunately, most of us are indentured servants to our corporate masters at this time.

    On the bright side, when the job market comes back these same corporate masters are going to wonder what hit them. Widespread walkouts, or extortion (large retention bonuses, immediate promotions/raises). If the idiot CxO's don't get a clue now, they are going to watch their companies implode as the brain drain hits them.

    These sentiments mirror those of my colleagues. Our company had better get a clue too, or it won't be pretty.

  • Eh.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phoenix_orb (469019) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:54PM (#8457275)
    Mod down this rant if you want, but it is an objective opinion of the consensus of this thread.

    Everyone here talks about how they can't leave IT, and "boo-hoo" that this corporation that cares little for you offshores your job.

    The PhD in question realized that plumbing pays more (and to reply to another thread, a plumber can make much more than 100k USD if they want to).

    Personally, I hate my IT job. I do network administration for a logistics company. We also have a help desk (which for some strange reason is my boss) and three programmers who program in something easier than VB (magic software out of israel if you are interested...shudder).

    I loathe my IT job, loathe the fact that nobody understand what I do, loathe the fact that I am forgotten about, loathe the fact that I put in 80 hour weeks and get chastised for the raise I threaten to quit over if I didn't get it. I am going to quit. As someone else stated, money is the best form of flattery. Who will pay me better than me? Nobody. So I am starting my own buisness.

    Yes it is a horrible plan (ebay selling combined with windshield repair) but I do have aspiritions (would like to start developing games for cell phones and pdas)

    So I am leaving my position in about 3 months to start it. Will I make as much? No. I only make 40k now, but with benefits that is probably nearer to 50k a year ( no bonus, no matching 401k ). Do I have to potential to make more? Hell yes I do. I am greatly suprized that people haven't taken the ititiative to start up there own niche based software companies. I am about to, and plan on hiring part time java programmers from wherever they pop up, as so long as they can do the work.

    Not everyone has the prudence to start there own buisness, not everyone can code 4000 (good) lines in a week, not everyone can program a pix without looking at it.

    If you love coding, but hate your job, find a niche that nobody else has filled. Write damn good software, and actively work on getting it marketed to the people who will use it. Maybe a niche to you is an answering machine for your linux box that emails you the ogg version of the message. Maybe it is a good time management system. Or software for logistics, or dental offices, or time management. Is each one of these things something that will make you a millionare? Of course not. If you change certain aspects of it, and spin the marketing a certain way, and sell it correctly, you could easily be sucessful enough and make enough bread for your family.

    I still come back here even though 95% of the posters on slashdot haven't a clue, and usually don't mod up the intellegent posts because they don't agree with them.

  • by kid_wonder (21480) <public@@@kscottklein...com> on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @06:54PM (#8457279) Homepage
    "Oh, you hate your job?! There's a support group for that. It's called everyone,
    they meet at the bar."
    -- Drew Carry, the Drew Carry Show.
  • by Lxy (80823) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @09:35PM (#8459011) Journal
    What you probably make: $40K-50K
    What people will pay for consultants: $100-$200/hr

    If the consultant is steady work, the obvious comes out. Less work, better pay. Calculate it for yourself, make sure you match health insurance and 401k offerings. You'll find that 15 hours a week at $100/hr is a good way to go, IF you can get steady work.

    Plumbers have it made. Plumbing is slow, tedious, DEPENDABLE work. A simple job is a minimum of 2 hours, $100/hr, well, one decent job a week will pay the bills. Going out on your own makes far more, and if you can secure work, the rewards are endless. Not having steady work is a good way to shoot yourself in the foot. It's a risk, weigh the options for you take it.

    I'll finish with a true story:

    I make around $40K at my job. I have all the certifications (MCSE, CNA, CCNA) that I need. I perform the tasks of those certifications on a regular basis. My boss has decided that my $20/hr opinion isn't worth as much as a $150/hr consultant, with no credentials, who has never visited our site. I built it from scratch, I know it inside out. Obviously I'm more qualified, I needed to teach him a lesson.

    So, I tricked him. I have a side business, and I dropped off a business card for a "local consulting firm". We conversed over e-mail, and set up a time. He agreed to pay $100 for the initial consultation. I went home for lunch, changed into khakis with a shirt and tie, and showed up as the consultant. His face was beet red when he found out it was me, but I'm $100 richer and my boss is more eager to listen to me.
  • by Brown Line (542536) on Wednesday March 03, 2004 @11:26PM (#8459802)
    I'm 51, probably a lot older than most /. readers. I've worked as a calligrapher, mailman, gravedigger, copy editor, technical writer, stock boy, lifeguard, mechanic. I've worked with the federal government, the Illinois State government, and the government of Cook County. I've cleaned toilets in women's rest rooms and been a clerk/typist at Cook County Juvenile Court (one circle of Hell I hope never to revisit). I've been a research assistant in an ophthalmologic research center, and written audiovisual scripts for drug companies, and operated a mag-card machine in a typing pool. And no, I am not making any of this up.

    I got into IT 20 years ago, back when a guy with some smarts and some good work habits could pick up K&R, learn it, and get a job. Having sampled something of the broader working work, I must say that I love IT. I'm with a small company where I get to code nearly all day long, there's minimal political bullshit, and the pay and bennies are excellent. Writing good code is so much more challenging and fun than cleaning toilets or digging graves, you have no idea!

    In my best of all possible worlds, I would make my living as a musician. But that is not to be: lack of opportunity, and (to be truthful) lack of talent stand in the way. But for me, IT is a damn good second best. Take it from me, that greener grass you see out there probably is astroturf.

  • by prozac79 (651102) on Thursday March 04, 2004 @12:36AM (#8460188)
    When I just got out of college, I got a sweet job at a large software company. At least, it seemed sweet at first. They gave me a great salary, generous benefits, and reasonable hours. However, it was boring as hell. My life was basically the reality version of the movie "Office Space". I had too many managers, went through too much red tape, and basically only had to do 15 minutes of actual work a week. I figured I was too young to hate my job so much so I changed. I now have a job that pays less, has no benefits, and has me working long hours. But at least I spend my time working a job I like and not spending my free time wishing I had a better one.

    So what's the lesson learned? When you're young, work the job you like. You have your entire life to work jobs you hate and once you get that house, new car, wife, and children it will be tougher to leave a bad job if it pays well. When you're young and basically all you have in your life it work, make that work as enjoyable as possible. Plan for the future, but don't let that possible future ruin your present.

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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